Bloodborne pathogens (BBP) are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Coming into contact with another person’s blood or bodily fluids, including needlesticks and other sharps-related injuries, may expose workers to BBP.
If you work in a job or environment where contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) can reasonably be expected, or if part of your job role is to perform CPR/First Aid as needed for fellow coworkers, then you will be enrolled in your company’s exposure control program and must follow the requirements of the program.
Major Bloodborne Pathogens
- Hepatitis B (HBV) – affects approximately 1.5 million Americans, causes acute “flu-like” illness 6 weeks to 6 months after exposure, can also cause chronic illness leading to liver damage, cancer and death. Vaccine available to prevent infection. HBV can survive in dried blood for at least 7 days!
- Hepatitis C (HCV) – affects approximately 4 million Americans, 80% of people infected do not show any symptoms, treatment available but no vaccine. Chronic HCV can have serious consequences including liver cirrhosis, liver disease and liver cancer.
- HIV – affects approximately 1 million Americans, weakens the immune system so that the body cannot fight off infections such as the flu and pneumonia. No vaccine or cure available.
- Regardless of your risk of exposure, assume all blood, OPIM or potentially contaminated surfaces are infectious.
- Many BBP-infected individuals may not know they have an infection, so taking precautions is key to prevention!
- Wear personal protective equipment (PPE), wash your hands after PPE removal, and report any exposure.
Personal Protective Equipment
- If contact with human blood or OPIM is expected or inevitable, wear proper PPE including disposable gloves, eye protection, and a mask to prevent infectious material from coming into contact with the areas of the body that can be pathways for infection (eyes, nose, mouth, open cuts, abrasions). If you have an exposed cut, bandage it.
- Make sure that your company’s blood spill clean-up kit (if provided) contains required PPE and is readily available.
- Properly dispose of contaminated sharps into closable, leak-proof sharps containers.
- Dispose of contaminated gloves and cleaning products into regulated waste containers or biohazard bags.
- Thoroughly disinfect contaminated surfaces with a 10:1 water to bleach solution or approved disinfectant.
- If you have been exposed, or potentially exposed to blood or OPIM during your job, report it to your supervisor to ensure a post-exposure evaluation can be completed. Post-exposure prophylaxis may be started.
- After your evaluation by a healthcare professional, you must be informed of the results within 15 days.